My campers were wonderfully enthusiastic and adventurous as we "traveled" around the world, learning about 5 countries, listening to the music of each culture, making a piece of art inspired by the country, and trying foreign foods. I loved every minute!
Day 1: Argentina
When campers arrived, they painted and beaded wooden name tags that my husband made on our Glowforge, then they colored in a giant welcome banner. We learned information about Argentina, made clay llama sculptures, and wove tiny blankets for them with a straw loom and yarn. Later in the week we painted the llamas. For food, we made homemade alfajores cookies by rolling out the dough and filling them with dulce la leche. Yum!
Day 2: Russia
We talked about the vast country of Russia and then read a story called Babushka's Doll by Patricia Polocco. The campers painted wooden matryoshka nesting dolls and then we made blini, a thin pancake, which we filled with strawberries and whip cream!
Day 3: Italy
After watching a video about Italy, one of the students dressed up like Leonardo da Vinci and "painted" the Mona Lisa. We read the story Strega Nona by Tommie de Paola. We spread wet plaster on burlap to make our own frescoes. When they dried, we drew fruit still lifes with chalk pastels. We also made margherita pizza with sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil. Yummy!
Recipe: https://www.thekitchn.com/easy-recipe-classic-margherita-pizza-recipes-from-the-kitchn-174103 (we used refrigerator bistro pizza dough and jarred pizza sauce instead of homemade)
Day 4: Egypt
After watching a video about a tourist in Egypt, we made funny Pharaoh selfies with our names written in hieroglyphs. We cooked up some Egyptian Basbousa Semolina cake that was very interesting, like sweet, dense cornbread with syrup on top.
Day 5: Thailand
We enjoyed a video about a family who traveled to Thailand, and got some special information from MaiLa, one of the campers whose grandparents are from Thailand. We read a book called The Umbrella Queen and painted with liquid watercolors on paper lanterns. We cooked up some veggie stir fry and rice noodles with the option of sweet/sour sauce or Thai peanut sauce. We topped it off with Pocky candy sticks and watermelon slushies. The kids enjoyed shopping at the studio store, too!
Recipe: https://damndelicious.net/2014/05/24/watermelon-slush/ (I skipped the sugar)
I had a fabulous group of artsy, enthusiastic campers for my first week of 2019 summer camps. Here is a recap of all of our fun projects and learning.
Projects 1, 2, & 3: When the kids arrived, they stained and beaded wooden name tags, which my husband and I designed and etched on our Glowforge. They also colored in a big Crazy Art banner. When those were complete, we went into the studio and viewed a slideshow of the work of artist Paul Anton, who makes giant, hyper-realistic food art. We made pinch pot cupcakes with coiled frosting out of air-dry clay, then painted them a few days later and boxed them in adorable bakery cupcake boxes. They were a hit! Bonus: my daughter, Grace, made fancy cupcakes for us all to enjoy at the end of the first day!
Project 4: We watched a slideshow of the Pop Art prints of Andy Warhol and then proceeded to make our own using gelli plates, texture items, and acrylic paints to pull our mono prints. The kids printed on black & white photos of themselves that I had snapped on Day 1, then put them all together on black paper to make them POP!
Project 5: After looking at the beautiful close-up floral art of Georgia O'Keefe, we drew and painted these wonderful extra-large paintings of flowers. I taped down the edges to produce a nice white frame. For the outlines, I introduced the kids to India ink in bingo daubers. They work beautifully! Then we practiced mixing the acrylic paint right on the paper to get lovely blends of colors. They added tiny insects and a butterfly magnet to finish the piece. A couple of the kids ventured in their own direction when I mentioned that Georgia O'Keefe also liked to paint animal skulls!
Projects 6-7: Friday was the BIG DAY! We blacked-out the studio, turned on the blacklights, and painted with fluorescent paints. There were lots of oohs and ahhh! The kids loved how my mural glowed under the blacklight. We designed and painted mad scientists in a cartoon style, with chalked bubbles in the background, and then we designed ice cream cones on foam core and filled them in with glowing ice cream salt that I dyed with fluorescent paint. I forgot to get pictures of these! Such a sensory experience for the kids! Of course, the paint ended up on their faces (and mine!) We invited the parents down for a Glow Show at the end.
Here are a few more pictures of the other ways kids had fun at camp, including petting the studio cat, Ginger, and playing on the rope swing, zip line, and slack line in my backyard. Thanks for a great week to my beautiful, talented new friends!
I usually say YES when it comes to new artistic opportunities, because I not only learn new skills, but I break up the routine and often find new ways to creatively apply what I've learned. As I painted long hours in the quiet church gym this week, I listened, among other podcasts, to a TED Talk on "Jumpstarting Creativity," in which speaker Tim Harford talked about a powerful technique to unleash new avenues of creativity called "disruption." Mixing it up. Doing something ridiculously different than your usual.
I realized that my current disruptive activity was painting a gimungous canvas backdrop for my church's VBS program, which has the theme of "ROAR" this year. My talented friend, Amy, who designs sets for television, designed the backdrop. I had to learn how to project it, sketch it, and properly paint it. I messed up a lot, improvised when I couldn't see the shape of the elephants, and continually dripped on finished parts. Cringe! But stepping back, one can forget about the little mistakes and see the magic!
Thanks to custodian and former sign painter Brad Higgins for his good advice, starting with reminding me to pour the paint over the drop cloth instead of the gym floor! And thanks to Pastor Brian and the whole team for pouring your hearts and time into transforming the church into an African savanna and preparing wonderful messages and activities for the kids! VBS "disrupts" the normal routine at our church and ushers hundreds of kids into the mystery and roaring power of God's love.
I had a most unusual request from a friend recently. Six month ago, she and her family adopted a daughter from China, who would become their 5th child and 2nd adopted child. This 10-year-old girl is spunky and curious and soaking up the language and culture. She is also deaf and has the wonderful ability to express herself through art. Her art is full of manga-style princesses, rainbows, ruffles and glittery crowns. She carefully labels the portraits with her new English name and the names of her new brothers & sisters, and mom and dad. She is finding her place in the world through art.
Throughout these 6 months, as she works to bond with her daughter, my friend has also been caring for her mother, who had late-stage cancer until she died a week ago. How do you explain death to a young girl from a different culture who has limited sign language. How do you explain the belief that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord?
My friend asked if I could help...if I could somehow draw this concept. As she talked, I formed a vision for the painting, and then, startlingly, my friend described what I was picturing...the bed, the hand, the body, the spirit. It was a Holy Moment that made me shiver!
I said I would try, and the next day I laid the watercolor on their kitchen counter. The picture was of a manga-style grandma, rising from her final resting place into the heavenly realm and toward the hand of God. I'm glad I clothed her in a rainbow gown before I even knew how much this girl loved rainbows.
She quieted and studied the picture. Her mom signed "grandma." She nodded knowingly. And I thought to myself that God, the Grand Designer, paints around and over and through us all grief and joy and beauty and love and hope.
Jill Pearson, owner & instructor at Riverwood Studio, Oronoco, Minnesota